I remember sitting in high school getting ready for PE and feeling conscious that people were judging me for not shaving the night before. I had problems with my skin in winter, it would crack and flake in the cold and shaving irritated it. So I didn’t shave daily and would opt for once a week with my hair and it seemingly had grown like a jungle overnight.
I felt ashamed. I’d heard people talking about girls with hairy legs before, pointing it out at others and laughing at them. I remember asking my friends if they were shaving and if they were even shaving down there. They all said firmly yes. And I’d never see them with hair, they’d always have perfect sparkly legs that glistened, and I admired. I wanted to be them.
But as I sat in PE, pulling my socks up as far as they would go, attempting to blend into the sea of high school girls who were ideally perfect, was that I felt like I wasn’t one of them. I didn’t understand the need to shave. It didn’t make me feel good, and it especially didn’t make me feel sexy, or happy as I was coated in razor burn, cracked skin, cuts and bruises. I just didn’t understand why people would have the time, energy and the happiness to shave every day, or every couple of days.
But I guess what I didn’t understand more was that the boys never had to do this. A man could grow hair out of every crevice, orifice and it was ok. As humans we all grew hair, so what was the point in shaving it all away, and for what? To feel feminine?
I still remember those feelings to the day and how horrified I was, and it still seems scary. It seems kind of scary to push outside of societies norms of how to conduct your own body. I’ve seen girls online get spams of messages telling them that they were disgusting, they needed to shave, and it was dirty, unhygienic. But no one would tell a man their hair was dirty, that their body hair was disgusting. In fact, hairy chests often are sexy, people admire them.
As I got older, I realised I wasn’t shaving nearly as much. Its cold outside, no one is looking at your ankles to see if you have hair poking out. When you go swimming, no one is staring intently at your crotch (if they are make sure to shoot them dirty looks.) I was sick of feeling itchy and uncomfortable, of having hair grow back rapidly and it being time to brave the shave again. I didn’t want to look prepubescent and didn’t particularly like the feeling of seeing myself naked like a bare-naked mole rat.
I guess life changed and like anything, you grow out of it. I grew out of having to shave every orifice of my body to feel pretty and attractive. I didn’t have long flowing hair, I dressed for me and now I shave for me too.
I’m not saying that I now grow hair everywhere like crazy, I do shave, maybe once in a while. And that’s only for my own satisfaction and gratitude (plus the feeling of getting into fresh bedsheets with fresh legs, that is a feeling that will never go away.)
I’m not doing it because I feel like I don’t fit in with others unless I am shaven because that isn’t me anymore. I shave because every now and again it feels good for me, and not for anyone else. If I want to grow it all out and plait it, I’ll absolutely do that too.
And if your partner, whoever they maybe, says they will only like you a certain way, when they themselves aren’t? Tell them to shove off.